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Unemployment benefits: payment calculator and dates for $300 assistance

Calculate how much money you could be entitled to with the extension of the unemployment benefit allowance and when it is likely to be available.

Billetes de cien dólares vía Getty Images.
Igor GolovniovGETTY IMAGES

Months have passed since the negotiations for the new relief package began and millions of households across Americans are still awaiting the fruits of that labor. All that has been seen is the action from Donald Trump, the US President, in August when he signed a series of executive orders. They were far from satisfactory for many, but an extension to the previously-agreed unemployment benefit - albeit at a reduced level - is a helping hand.

Unemployment benefit extension

The Lost Wages Supplement initiative provides unemployed workers with an additional $300 per week on top of their existing benefits, and the supplement payments can be made retroactively, back-dated to 1 August 2020.The program is being financed with $44 billion directly from the Disaster Relief Fund with states having the option to further top up benefits with an extra $100 (25%) although very few states thus far have opted to, or have the means to do so. A recent announcement has said that from Monday 14 September, eligible unemployed workers in Pennsylvania could receive the extra $300 per week.

At the time of writing, the states that have agreed to top up the benefit amount to $400 (still well down on the $600 agreed as part of the CARES Act) are Kansas, Kentucky, Montana, Vermont and West Virginia.

$300 Unemployment Assistance Calculator: how much money will I get?

The amount of unemployment assistance you will receive depends on the state to which you belong, with not all states having applied for this aid. Just as with stimulus checks, your income level will also be taken into account.

To make it simpler for Americans keen to work out what they are entitled to, Jasmine Mah, a Master of Science graduate at the University of Leeds, and Tibor Pal, a PhD student in Economics, have developed a calculator. Their Unemployment Benefit Calculator - Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) allows you to find out exactly how much money a week you will get with federal unemployment aid of up to $ 300.

It’s simple. Just enter the state to which you belong, along with your annual salary, the number of dependents you have and the date your unemployment began, into the form. The Mah-Pal calculator will do the rest. Here is the calculator for your use.

Lost Wages Supplement background

The Lost Wages Supplement partially re-establishes the weekly $600 top-up which unemployed workers received as part of the CARES Act bill which ran from March to July. However, it is being reported that the new supplement payments may come to an end just weeks after the program was launched.

According to a recent memo issued by FEMA, 23 states have been approved for grants, enabling them to provide unemployed individuals with an extra $300 - $400 per week on top of their regular unemployment insurance. It added, “As of August 22nd, FEMA has obligated $9.7 Billion in support of Lost Wages supplemental assistance. All approved grant applicants receive an initial obligation of three weeks of funding, with additional disbursements made on a weekly basis”.

That essentially means that the supplement benefits will continue until the $44 billion runs out. American Action Forum calculates that “those eligible for unemployment insurance would be able to claim the $400 supplement from 1 August to 6 December 2020, or until Homeland Security’s Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) drops to $25 billion. Assuming there are 30 million individuals claiming UI benefits and are eligible for the supplement, that $44 billion from the DRF would only allow the federal contribution of $300 per individual to last 5 weeks”.


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